State sued for trying to put gun shows out of business

‘This amounts to deprivation of rights under color of local law’


A lawsuit has been filed by several Second Amendment advocates and individual citizens against the state of California over its alleged agenda to put gun-show operations out of business.

The case was filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of the state by the Second Amendment Foundation, the California Rifle & Pistol Association and the South Bay Rod and Gun Club.

Also joining the action against the state were B&L Productions, Captain Jon’s Lockers, L.A.X. Firing Range and six private citizens.

The problem is the state’s “restrictive regulatory scheme covering the sale of firearms and ammunition” at gun shows.

“Boiled down to the basics,” explained SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “the state has been regulating gun show operations almost out of existence, and more restrictive than brick-and-mortar retail gun shops or even internet sales. This amounts to deprivation of rights under color of local law, including the First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of assembly, and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection under the law.”

He explained the action follows his organization’s victory in a legal fight over the use of the Del Mar Fairgrounds for a gun show.

In that case, when it appeared certain they would lose in court, board members of the fairgrounds stopped trying to ban a gun show there, and settled the lawsuit brought by the Second Amendment Foundation.

At the time, Gottlieb called it a victory for the First Amendment as well as the Second.

SAF was represented by attorney Don Kilmer.

“The gun culture belongs on Main Street and that is what this lawsuit was all about,” he said of the fairgrounds dispute.

Gottlieb argued gun shows are considered a First Amendment activity as well as a Second Amendment event.

“Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we haven’t been able to see a show held at the fairgrounds, but we’re looking forward to hearing from the gun show promoter that a date is set for another gathering sometime this year, hopefully,” he said.

The settlement, following a preliminary injunction against the fairgrounds moratorium, required the defendant to pay SAF’s attorney fees and costs, Kilmer said.

The circumstances requiring the new case, Gottlieb said, are alarming because those involved in the gun show all followed the rules, “yet, the state is attempting to prohibit constitutionally protected activities that are perfectly legal, and are already highly regulated.”

Kilmer is representing the plaintiffs in the new case too.

The new case names as defendants California Gov. Gavin Newsom in his official and personal capacity, Attorney General Robert Bonta, California Department of Food & Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, San Diego County District Attorney Stephan Summer, San Diego County Counsel Thomas Montgomery, the 22nd District Agricultural Association and Does 1-50. The 57-page federal complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

“Like it or not,” Gottlieb observed, “gun shows are public forums where like-minded people can meet and discuss various issues, engage in firearm sales and purchases, learn about gun safety and enjoy the camaraderie inherent at such events. Obviously, the defendants don’t like that, but they simply cannot violate constitutional rights to satisfy a personal disdain.”